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Chocolate-Flavored Cereal Lowers Cholesterol

by Fitness and Freebies

People who benefit from the cholesterol-lowering effects of bran but are turned off by the taste and gritty texture may have a sweet new option: a chocolate-flavored cocoa-bran cereal.

In a recent study, the cereal raised HDL (good) cholesterol and lowered the ratio of LDL (bad) cholesterol as much as wheat bran. It also relieved constipation, researchers report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"A chocolate-flavored low-fat, high-fiber source, cocoa bran, has a beneficial effect on laxation and a potentially interesting action in maintaining HDL cholesterol levels," according to Dr. David J. A. Jenkins from the University of Toronto in Canada.

The cocoa bean is a legume that has a high-fiber bran or seed coat. While the bran remains when the bean is processed into cocoa powder, the bran is discarded when the bean is used to make chocolate.

To test the effects of a cocoa-bran cereal on cholesterol and laxation, investigators fed healthy adults a cereal that provided 25 grams of fiber a day, for two weeks. For a comparison group, the study subjects then switched to eating a chocolate- flavored, low-fiber breakfast cereal that provided about 6 grams of fiber a day, for another two weeks.

Results show that HDL cholesterol rose by 7.6 percent and the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol fell by 6.7 percent after two weeks of eating the cocoa-bran cereal.

The low- fiber diet was associated with lower HDL cholesterol levels and higher LDL to HDL cholesterol ratios, the researchers observed. Unexpectedly, the low-fiber cereal also resulted in slightly lower blood pressure readings compared with the cocoa-bran diet.

The authors explain that coffee and tea contain compounds that may raise blood pressure and cocoa may have the same effect. Larger studies are needed to confirm this finding, they add.

"The effect on blood pressure, although small, requires confirmation and explanation of mechanism," Jenkins and colleagues conclude.

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine


Fitness and Freebies
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